Pass the Pepper, Please!
The next time you season your food with black pepper, remember this: black pepper improves digestion and promotes intestinal health. When you consume black pepper it stimulates the taste buds in such a way that a message is sent to the stomach to produce more hydrochloric acid secretion, which aids digestion. Hydrochloric acid is necessary for the digestion of proteins and other food components in the stomach. Without proper production of hydrochloric acid, food may stay in the stomach longer than usual, which can result in heartburn or indigestion. Black pepper also has diaphoretic and diuretic properties which help promote sweating and urination. Black pepper is an excellent source of manganese and vitamin K, as well as a very good source of copper and fiber.
Throughout history, black pepper has been a prized spice. In the Middle Ages, someone’s wealth was often measured by how much black pepper he had! Black pepper has also been used as currency and as a sacred offering. Pretty incredible considering how humble black pepper is today.
To get the most flavor from black pepper, you should buy whole peppercorns and grind them yourself in a mill. When cooking, you’ll want to wait to season food with black pepper until the end of the cooking process because it loses some aroma and flavor the longer it cooks.
Here are some ways to use this beloved spice.
- Add zest to your dishes by keeping a pepper mill close by
- Green peppercorns work well in Thai and Southeast Asian recipes
- Make a simple salad dressing with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and cracked black pepper
- Make a tasty South Asian black pepper chicken dish
- Make steak au poivre: coat steaks with crushed peppercorns before cooking
- White peppercorns are not as strong as black peppercorns and work well in white sauces and mashed potatoes